Researchers at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, working with colleagues in Canada, have found that one or more substances produced by a type of immune cell in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) may play a role in the disease’s progression. The finding could lead to new targeted therapies for MS treatment.
B cells, said Robert Lisak, M.D., professor of neurology at Wayne State and lead author of the study, are a subset of lymphocytes (a type of circulating white blood cell) that mature to become plasma cells and produce proteins that serve as antibodies.
In patients with MS, the B cells seem to attack the brain and spinal cord. Researchers believe that there might be substances produced in the nervous system and the covering of the brain and spinal cord that attract the cells. Once the B cells are inside the central nervous system or brain, the cells secrete substances that damage the cells that produce protections.
“We think this is a very significant finding, particularly for the damage to the cerebral cortex seen in patients with MS, because those areas seem to be damaged by material spreading into the brain from the meninges, which are rich in B cells adjacent to the areas of brain damage,” Lisak said.
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